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Why a TE who shined at the Senior Bowl is a sneaky good option for NY Jets

Greg Dulcich, UCLA, Senior Bowl, NY Jets, NFL Draft
Greg Dulcich, UCLA Football, Senior Bowl, Getty Images

Greg Dulcich is an underrated tight end target for the New York Jets

When you get into a draft conversation with New York Jets fans about the tight end position in the upcoming 2022 NFL draft, there are two names that come up constantly: Colorado State’s Trey McBride and Ohio State’s Jeremy Ruckert.

While McBride and Ruckert did not hurt their stock at the Senior Bowl, there were two other TEs who raised their stock more than any other: Wisconsin’s Jake Ferguson and UCLA’s Greg Dulcich.

It’s Dulcich who I want to focus on today.

Heading into Senior Bowl week, few people were talking about Dulcich. The focus instead was on McBride, Ruckert, and Coastal Carolina’s Isaiah Likely. Those three names were competing for the title of TE1 with McBride holding a sizeable lead.

While I’m not about to say that Dulcich jumped into that conversation, he’s done enough to make you feel as though you’re getting a special player.

Dulcich’s size didn’t stand out during the Senior Bowl measurements- he came in under 6-foot-4 and under 250 pounds – but his length certainly did. Only Iowa State’s Charlie Kolar (82 1/8″) measured in with a longer wingspan than Dulcich (81 1/4″). That length was put to good use throughout a week of practice where Dulcich outperformed everyone in the tight end room, on both sides.

I’ve seen a fair bit of Dulcich in 2021 and was surprised that he was getting looked over so much in the process. With 42 receptions for 725 yards and five touchdowns, he was a playmaker for the Bruins all season and his separation skills were on show throughout Senior Bowl week. He ran away from even the fastest linebackers and his length made him an impossible player to defend when matched up against safeties.

We knew that Dulcich was explosive. He showcased that throughout his college career, culminating in leading the Bruins with a 17.3 yards per reception number in 2021.

Dulcich had a solid 6.1% drop rate throughout his career, and he barely dropped a thing that was within catching distance in Mobile.

One of the key questions you want to answer at the Senior Bowl is, “Does the tape match what you see?” In regards to the hands and the explosiveness, the answer to that question was a resounding yes for Dulcich.

There’s something that surprised me from Dulcich’s Senior Bowl performance that has led to his draft stock taking off: his contested-catch ability.

Contested catches can be considered a question mark for Dulcich. Over the course of his four-year career, he had 20 contested catch opportunities and caught just 45% of them (9-of-20). When you want to be a big-time TE, you have to win more contested balls than your opponent. Anything below 50% is a red flag for me.

Trey McBride was a 54.9% contested catcher and Jeremy Ruckert had a 54.5% success rate.

Since Dulcich’s 20 opportunities isn’t a huge sample size to work with, I wanted to see how he looked at the Senior Bowl with defenders on his hip, especially in one-on-one situations. He looked outstanding in these situations, his length allowed him to come down with nearly every pass thrown his way.

If you can find a TE who can run away from linebackers and block out and snare footballs away from safeties, you have yourself an intriguing prospect.

Dulcich also looks competitive in blocking drills, showing the ability to move players off the line and create space for the running backs.

All throughout the early part of this process I’ve been told that Dulcich isn’t a route-runner; that he’s a one-dimensional deep threat and nothing else.

Yes, he was used a lot down the field in that UCLA system because he created easy mismatches there to exploit, but it wasn’t exclusive. When asked to run a more diverse route tree, he seemed capable.

During Senior Bowl week I wanted to watch that area of his game in particular and he checked the box. Dulcich was smooth flipping his hips to create throwing windows and his quick feet off the line enabled him to get good separation immediately. He had no issues being asked to run and compete on a more diverse route tree.

There are some players in college who you know will be better pros. Jeremy Ruckert is one of those guys and I’d argue Greg Dulcich is as well.

I’m not here to say that I wouldn’t take McBride or Ruckert in the second round, that’s not the point of this piece. The point of this piece is to show that there are options for the Jets if someone reaches and the likes of McBride and Ruckert aren’t available when the Jets are selecting.

Dulcich isn’t the only solid backup plan for the Jets. This TE class may not have the Kyle Pitts superstar in it, but it’s arguably one of the best classes since the 2013 one which saw Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz enter the league. If you don’t love Dulcich, then Charlie Kolar and his 66.7% contested catch rate may be what you’re looking for. Or maybe Jake Ferguson and his reliability? Cole Turner? There are so many options to consider.

The Jets had one of the worst TE rooms in football in 2021. This off-season will provide them with a perfect opportunity to completely rebuild it.

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Psi
Psi
2 years ago

I concur with your focus on Dulcich. Didn’t focus on him prior to the Senior Bowl, but after doing so, I came away with a similar sentiment to yours. The draft answer on TE will be shown by what the team’s able (or willing) to do in FA. If they go big there in terms of cost (i.e. Schultz), they’ll wait out the position in the draft and Dulcich/Ferguson etc. is in the mix. If they can only get a “second-level” TE in FA i.e. Njoko etc, then TE becomes a higher round priority i.e. McBride/Wydermeyer. I personally prefer the first option, though there’s value in going for “premium” talent at this position in both FA & the draft. I expect both TE & WR to be upgraded noticeably in this off-season.

Bruno
2 years ago

Ferguson is the guy I want. I see the Jets signing a FA and drafting one. What’s left over from this year will battle for #3 .

JetOrange
JetOrange
2 years ago

Jets could/ should take two TE’s in this Offense

Jets71
Jets71
2 years ago

I live on the west coast and I too like him a lot, and I think Ferguson is the sleeper of this draft. Sticking with your theme of Dulcich, he’s talented and has upside. I have seen a lot about signing Schultz from Dallas. I don’t want him, Dulcich is a much better prospect and they can just use one of their draft picks on him. I see no reason why the Jets can’t draft 2 TE’s in this draft.

Psi
Psi
2 years ago
Reply to  Jets71

Curious about your negative take on Schultz. What are his red flags? Seems like a good player worthy of a decent contract offer. I’d have no issues with a Schultz/Dulcich or Ferguson combo.

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